Many dead in Sudan ammo dump blast

An explosion at an ammunition dump in a military training centre in the south Sudanese town of Juba has killed at least 18 people after artillery shells rained down on large parts of the town.

    The blast took place in the southern Sudan town of Juba

    "At least 18 people died and around 30 were injured," the governor

    , Major General Clement Wani, said on Wednesday.

    Aid workers in the town said that judging by the extensive damage

    they thought the toll would be much higher.

    "It's a bloody mess. There are bodies that have been burnt to nothing

    . There's unexploded ordnance everywhere and almost half

    of the city has been blown up," said one aid worker, who asked

    not to be named.

    "It looks like a war zone," said another aid worker, who also asked not to be named. "Shells were falling within an area 4km

    in diameter," she added.

    Gemma Mortensen, a British journalist who happened to be visiting

    the town, said: "The sky just ignited and shells started firing

    themselves."

    An unexploded anti-aircraft missile 2m long landed outside the compound of the UN Children's Fund Unicef, she added.

    Hot weather

    One of the aid workers quoted witnesses as saying they had

    seen between 15 and 20 bodies.

    "It looks like a war zone. Shells were falling within an area 4km in

    diameter"

    Aid worker

    The explosion took place in the area known as the customs market

    in the west of the town and houses were destroyed or burnt

    all the way to the town centre, she added.

    The Sudan Radio Service, a US-funded station based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and broadcasting to southern Sudan, said houses in the area were burnt to ashes and some shells fell in the nearby offices of a charity organisation.

    Throughout more than two decades of civil war in southern Sudan

    , Juba remained in government hands, with a large military

    presence to protect it from rebels.

    The government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement

    signed a peace agreement in Nairobi in January.

    Mortensen said army officers were speculating that the
    ammunition dump ignited accidentally because of a recent spell of hot weather and because of poor storage methods.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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